Launching Salesforce Lightning with a global community, a live event and Hangouts

Editor's note: Today we hear from Sarah Franklin, VP of Admin Marketing at Salesforce, the leader in enterprise cloud computing and the sixth largest software company in the world. See how the company brought its community together and announced a recent product release using Google Hangouts. 

It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to bring together people from 119 locations across the globe. The Salesforce marketing team put our heads together to decide how to announce Salesforce Lightning — a metadata-driven platform that is highly customizable, and empowers people to work faster and smarter — differently than previous product releases. We decided to focus on what’s always been at the center of our company: our customers. For us, the solution was simple and collaborative. We chose Google Hangouts to introduce Lightning, so we could share this exciting announcement with our community of developers and users in 20 countries via live video.

We chose Hangouts because we wanted to show our community that we’re committed to using innovative tools. We’d already been using Hangouts in a variety of ways, such as connecting with colleagues in different offices (and sending each other emojis) and hosting webinars with our admin community, so we knew it was a great choice to bring many people together from around the world.

Whether it was 7 a.m. or midnight in their local timezone, people gathered at universities, community centers and local pubs to join the product launch. The day after our announcement, we also hosted a second private Hangout with over 200 people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in case they missed the launch due to timing. These events created a deeper sense of camaraderie among an already strong community. We sent our community leaders a webcam and tripod, so it was easy and cost effective to get a group together since all they needed was an internet connection. Hangouts gave us the opportunity to encourage dialogue between admins, developers, partners and users in a fun and immediate way.

Many companies measure the success of a product launch based on the press they receive or the number of website visits they get in a single day. We flipped that. Our goal was how could we involve our community and put our customers at the center of this launch. We defined success by the number of customers we involved. More than 19,000 people from our community, from Bangalore to Tokyo to New York City to Paris and hundreds of places in between, tuned in to join the launch.

Our executives were floored when they saw people from all around the world on the screen. We overcame the language barrier by having translators onsite in some of the non-English speaking countries to make sure everyone felt included. We created a personal connection with customers who spoke different languages and brought together engineers, users, executives and the marketing team who have a common passion for our customers’ success.

By focusing on forward-looking technology, we hosted an event that made more than 19,000 people feel like they were in the same room. And with our core focus on connecting companies to their customers, we couldn't think of a better way to introduce our products to the world than with Hangouts.